The first true trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 hit the internet Saturday evening and debuted on TV during ABC’s college football coverage. Fan response has been overwhelmingly positive. Here’s the MCUExchange breakdown of the trailer, including our musings on what might be coming in director James Gunn‘s follow-up to the 2014 monster-hit.

screen-shot-2016-12-05-at-11-30-16-am

The trailer opens with a few pieces of special effects eye candy. From what we have heard out of Gunn so far, the trailers will be leaning heavily on images from the beginning of the movie, so as to not share too much of what happens later in the movie. The monster the Guardians are fighting is an Abilisk, and the first concept art for the film featured the same creature. It seems that movie will open with an action sequence as the team faces off against the monster, Star-Lord holds off an army of droid ships, and Rocket…well we’ll get to that.

screen-shot-2016-12-05-at-11-42-58-am

This may be the money shot of the whole trailer. The Abilisk looks great, kind of terrifying and grotesque. Drax is all out in action. When this is shown in 3D it’s going to really pop off the screen. These kinds of images are the reason that Gunn has made fans wait as long as we’ve waited. This is not a scene that’s still in the middle of effects production. It is a finished product and looks awesome.

screen-shot-2016-12-05-at-11-46-11-am

Baby Groot is the star of the trailer, and probably will be the thrust of much of the marketing and toy sales as well. The first Guardians of the Galaxy film only featured a version of Baby Groot for about 30 seconds, and Marvel sold a ton of merch. The real challenge for the sequel will be if the character can remain adorable and enjoyable after he’s been plastered on every cereal box and soda can in America for six months. The early signs, however, are great. He’s a perfect mix of adorable, naive, and mischievous. Baby Groot has some similar sensibilities to the original character, but also appears a little different. Gunn has promised elements of continuity and discontinuity in an interesting mix, and we get that in just a few moments in the trailer. Also, it is commendable how with mere tone “I am Groot” can actually feel like a meaningful conversation. While Vin Deisel‘s job on this movie might seem easy, he shows some major talent as a voice actor to communicate as he does.

screen-shot-2016-12-05-at-11-52-40-am

“Showtime a-holes!” This is a clever allusion back to the very first trailer to the franchise where the punch line from the Nova Core as they processed the team into prison was, “What a bunch of a-holes.” It’s a subtle way to say, “Different movie, same humor.”

ravengers_alien

Now it’s time for a little exercise in “guess the plot.” Three main elements have appeared thus far in the trailer and the “tease” that came out a month or so ago. (1) The team fighting the Abilisk. (2) The team landing on a forest planet. (3) A prison escape scene. My guess is that this is the progression of the plot. Star-Lord and crew will fight the monster, succeed, but crash-land on a nearby planet. (Note Drax’s “screw you spaceship.”) Then, the Ravagers will attack them on that planet. This scene where Rocket sends them flying with the blue energy weapon happens at this point. During the scuffle either some of the team is taken to a facility to be held captive, or the team merely finds out that Yondu is in trouble and go to rescue him. This is all hypothesis from the scenes, but the plot seems like a solid way to start the movie. How Yondu and Nebula transition from villain to hero will be something to watch for when the film is released. It’s also interesting to note that one of the aliens shown in the Ravengers crew (as seen above) is the same race as one of the Aliens we saw in Thor: The Dark World when we were introduced to the Collector. Any ideas on the name of the race?

screen-shot-2016-12-05-at-12-00-41-pm

We can only hope that this is Drax inside the stomach of the Abilisk, clawing his way out. It’s gross, but just the right amount of edgy. A challenge with these films is that the director could be tempted to turn it into a toy-selling machine. Rocket and Groot are tailor made to bring in the kiddos. So keeping the films with a more mature edge makes them more fun for adults. A little bit of killing a monster from the entrails out certainly helps that tone.

screen-shot-2016-12-05-at-12-03-48-pm

This shot was always going to happen in the sequel. The moment where Rocket got on Groot’s shoulders and started blasting away is a visual trademark of the series, so inverting that with Baby Groot is an obvious move, but a satisfying one.

screen-shot-2016-12-05-at-12-05-32-pm

It’s interesting that the trailer lists Groot as “Baby Groot.” There is a definite plan to make this a new character in a way. Seeing the adorable little guy turn into a rage monster is just so funny. The contradiction between Groot’s gentle and bumbling personality and his ability to seriously kill folks is something that made the character fun in the first movie. That contrast is even starker when you see him as a tiny tree baby.

screen-shot-2016-12-05-at-12-08-42-pm

In some ways, the first movie might have had a bit more Peter Quill than Star Lord. After the first ten minutes or so, we didn’t see much of his gadgets and fighting ability. It looks like we will get some more scenes of him using his abilities and weapons. A bit more Star-Lord fight scenes will be fun.

screen-shot-2016-12-05-at-12-11-05-pm

Finally, Mantis is revealed to the world! The design of the character is interesting. Going away from the green skin tone is probably a good call. The cast otherwise might look a little monochromatic. Gunn’s also done an incredible job of describing her power set really quickly in the trailer. While her role in the mission of the team will be interesting, it will also be interesting to see how she plays with the team dynamics. All five characters have a history of being evasive, not sharing their true feelings. Quill doesn’t talk much about his mother. Gamora doesn’t delve into her torture at the hands Thanos. Rocket’s origin is a mystery. So having a character around that can make them emotionally naked with the touch of a hand promises to really push an important theme in the movie. What does it mean to share with others? How does this band of friends develop the intimacy of a family? Mantis’ role in all of this will be interesting.

screen-shot-2016-12-05-at-12-15-58-pm

The development of Drax should be an interesting set of decisions for Gunn. His super-literal, brooding persona in the first film can’t last forever. More aspects of his personality need to come out. But doing that in a way that feels honest to the original character is a challenge. I’m still on the fence if this scene is a little over the top, but we will see when it’s in the context of the movie. Seeing him have fun at Quill’s expense never gets old!

Well, that does it for now. Hopefully, we will have a Spider-Man: Homecoming breakdown later this week. Until then, watch the trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 again. We know you want to.